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(futurist manifesto, 1913)
by Luigi Russolo translated by Robert Filliou
1967 A Great Bear Pamphlet
THE ART OF NOISE LUIGI RUSSOLO ubuclassics 2004 .
ubuclassics The Art of Noise Luigi Russolo Originally published in 1967 as a Great Bear Pamphlet by Something Else Press.com 3 .com Series Editor: Michael Tencer ubu. ubuclassics www.ubu.
4 4 cades and some exceptional telluric movements. life went on silently. life was nothing but silence. with the advent of machinery. Futurist Music. This is why man was thoroughly . when suddenly my intuitive mind conceived a new art that only your genius can create: the Art of Noises. nor prolonged nor varied. In antiquity. For several centuries. performed by a powerful orchestra. or mutedly. casamazed by the first sounds he obtained out of a hole in reeds or a stretched string. during our bloody victory over four thousand passé-ists great futurist musician.The Art of Noise (translated from L’arte dei Rumori) My dear Balilla Pratella in the Costanzi Theater of Rome. logical conNoise was really not born before the 19th century. 1913. The loudest noises were neither intense. nature is normally silent. hurricanes. Today noise reigns supreme over human sensibility. except for storms. avalanches. we were fist-and-cane-fighting in defense of your On March 9. In fact. sequence of your marvelous innovations.
It has tried To excite our sensibility. an inviolable and sacred world. Then labor. have only in its unfolding through time. a narrow conception so persistent that we still find exist. strangest and most dissonant amalgams of sound. Thus we are approaching noise-sound. This revolution of music is First of all. but merely horizontal. with their musical theory mathematically determined by limited the domain of music until now and made almost impossible the harmony they were unaware of. The result of this was music. came gradually: the assonant comup with the persistent and complicated dissonances of contemporary music. This hieratic atmosphere bypassed it. to end it amalgamated different sounds. The need for and the search for the simultaneous union of different sounds (that is to say of its complex. In the Middle Ages music did progress through the development and modifications of the Greek tetracord system. who thereby enriched their rites Primitive people attributed to sound a divine origin. Nowadays musical art aims at the shrilliest.the art of noise luigi russolo ubuclassics with religious respect. now fails to arouse any emotion. intent upon caressing the ear with suave harmonies.com to obtain the most complex succession of dissonant chords. The Greeks. the conception of these parts was not vertical. But people kept considering sound Pythagoras. plex polyphony and a greater variety of instrumental tones and coloring. the chord). so the other arts forged ahead and superimposed upon reality. machines create today such a large number of varied noises that pure sound. a fantastic world was bound to slow down the progress of music. according to which only some consonant intervals were admitted. Thus was developed the conception of sound as something apart. It became surrounded with a new mystery. The chord did not yet these parts could produce together. mon chord was followed by chords enriched with some random dissonances. musical art looked for the soft and limpid purity of sound. music has developed into a search for a more com- ubu. different from and independent of life. In the pounding atmosphere of great cities as well as in the formerly silent counwith its littleness and its monotony. paralleled by the increasing proliferation of machinery sharing in human tryside. thus preparing the ground 5 5 . the development of the different parts was not subordinated to the chord that it in the very complex polyphonies of the Flemish composers. and reserved for the priests.
Shall plaintive meeowing of violins? This plain talk will make all music maniacs jump in 6 6 . to the heroic or pastoral modern orchestra represents without concluding that the acoustic results are pitiful. Is It is hardly possible to consider the enormous mobilization of energy that a there any. and loud symphonies. Beethoven and Wagner have deliciously shaken our hearts. than listening once more. This evolution toward noise-sound is only possible today. pinched string instruments. and we sip from bar to bar two or three sorts of boredom and keep waiting for the extraorgives you a foretaste of the boredom that will drip from the next bar. But our ears far from being satisfied. Now we are fed up with them. crowds. on the other hand our ears rejoice in it. In this fashion ubu.the art of noise luigi russolo for Musical Noise. See. keep asking for bigger acoustic its tones.com their seats. metallic wind instruments. wooden wind instruments. for they are attuned to modern life. for instance. rich in all sorts of noises. the first bar is dripping with boredom stemming from familiarity. All of us have liked and enjoyed the harmonies of the great masters. We must break at all cost from this restrictive circle of pure instruments. thing more ridiculous in the world than twenty men slaving to increase the we visit one of them together? Let’s go inside one of these hospitals for anemic sounds. Music marks time in this small circle and vainly tries to create a new varisounds and conquer the infinite variety of noise-sounds. The ear of an eighteenth century man never could have withstood the discordant intensity of some of the chords produced by our orchestras (whose performers are three times as numerous). autos and other vehicles. ubuclassics predisposing the auditor to boredom. The most complicated orchestra can be reduced to four or five categories of sensations. which will stir up a bit the somnolent atmosphere of concert halls. For years. in spite of all the efforts of innovating com- Each sound carries with it a nucleus of foreknown and foregone sensations posers. musical sound is too restricted in the variety and the quality of instruments with different sound tones: rubbed string instruments. and percussion ety of tones. This is why we get infinitely more pleasure imagining combinations of the sounds of trolleys. However.
stepping and push- is futile. We will have fun imagining our orchestra- of railroad stations. the tlings of engines breathing with obvious animal spirits. In the center. echoes. for I can’t repress much longer the intense desire to create a true ing over violins and pianos. the white solemn breathing of a city at night. the orchestra of a great battle: tion of department stores’ sliding doors. To convince you of the surprising variety of noises. with elegant and fashionable ecstasy. the different roars subways. all echoes-quick! take-it-crumble it-spread it-infinite distance to hell. wind. rivers. and I don’t intend to refute it. air and gas inside metallic pipes. cascades. center of these flattened TAMTOUMBS-width 50 square kilometers-leap 2 3 6 8 splinters-fisticuffs-headrammings-rapid fire 7 7 ubu. And we must not forget the very new noises of Modern Warfare. a horse trotting away. the rising and falling of pis- snapping of whips. Meanwhile we witness the brewing of a ubuclassics heartrending mixture composed of the monotony of the sensations and the stupid and religious swooning of the audience. I will mention thunder. the loud jumping of trolleys on their rails. streams. make without talking or singing. the whipping of flags. leaves. the hubbub of the crowds. iron foundries. with the ear more atten- among the gurglings of water. with almost Bhuddist patience. the starts and jumps of a carriage on the pavement. the stridency of mechanical saws. in his new futurist style. printing houses. textile mills. The poet 1 2 3 4 5 seconds the siege canons gut the silence by a chord- Tamtoumb! Immediately echoes. power plants and Marinetti. and we will vary the pleasures of our sensibilities by distinguishing Let’s walk together through a great modern capital. echoes. bassoons and moaning organs! Let’s go out! time. the rumblings and rattons. all the noises made by feline and domestic animals and all those man’s mouth can tive than the eye.the art of noise luigi russolo dinary sensation that will never materialize. drunk on experiencing for the thousandth Let’s get out quickly. The objection pleasant sensations.com . in a letter from the Bulgarian trenches of Ariadnople described to me as follows. POUAH! musical reality finally by distributing big loud slaps right and left. to enumerate all the delicate noises that give Some will object that noise is necessarily unpleasant to the ear.
the art of noise luigi russolo this grave bass apparent slowness-scan the strange madmen Fury anguish breathless ears My ears open nasals! beware! such joy is yours o my people to sense see ear scent drink batteries Violence.craak (double bar slowly) Choumi Maritza each other pam ici (vite) pac over there BOUM-pam-pam-pam damnit on the head chaak marvelous! flames flames flames flames flames flames flames crawl from forts over there Choukri Pacha telephone orders to 27 forts roles blowing-echoes odor-hay-mud-manure I can’t feel my in turkish German hello Ibrahim! Rudolf hello! hello! actors frozen feet stale odor rotting gongs flutes clarinets pipes everycip ip-zzip herds pastures dong-dong-dong-ding-bééé Orchestra playing playing playing Great fracas far from erasing drink Madmen keep hitting orchestra professors they bent beaten where up down birds twitter beatitude shade greenness cip- mouth wide open diameter 1 kilometer Debris of echos in this nized in the audience Maritza Tungia Rodopes 1st and 2d theater of laying rivers sitting villages standing mounts recogubu. ferocity.000 shrapnels gesticulation 8 8 . pendulum game. fatality- ubuclassics very young-very mad mad mad-very agitated altos of the battle everything everything everything taratatatatata the machinecudgellings whippings pic pac POUMTOUMB juggling guns shouting twisting under a thousand bites slaps traaktraak clowns’ jump in full sky height 200 meters it’s the gunshoot- ing Downwards guffaws of swamps laughter buffalos chariots stings prancing of horses ammunition-wagons flue flac zang chaak chaak rearings pirouettes patatraak bespatterings manesneighings i i i i i i i medley tinklings three bulgarian batallions o Karvavena officers’ shouts copper plates knocking against here there there farther all around very high look-out godon the move crook.com tiny noises revomit them precise them out of their echoing rows loggias groundfloor boxes 2. regularity.
has come to strike our ears no more than an overly familiar face does our eye. Noise is familiar to us. foreign to life. at times even a chord dominating distinguishes it. an occasional element. Not that we want to destroy the movements and irregular vibrations (of tempo and intensity) of these noises! We wish simply to fix the degree or pitch of the predominant vibration.com . sound. complete ascending or descending scale through the speeding up or slowing down of Noise has the power to bring us back to life. these most varied noises. Certain noises obtained through a rotating movement can give us a the movement. Noise.the art of noise luigi russolo explosion zang-toumb white handkerchiefs full of gold toumbquick such enthusiasm pulling hair very black hairs ZANG- ubuclassics toumb clouds-gallery 2. We feel certain that in selecting and coordinating all noises we art of noises will extract its main emotive power from the special acoustic pleasure that 9 9 art of noises must not be limited to a mere imitative reproduction. outside thing. always a musical.000 grenades thundering applause Quick TOUMB-TOUMB war noises orchestra blown beneath a note of silence hanging in full sky captive golden balloon controlling the fire. Noise accompanies every manifestation of our life. prises for our benefit. The existence of this predomi- Each noise possesses a pitch. We want to score and regulate harmonically and rhythmically nant pitch offers us the technical means of scoring these noises. is never totally revealed to us and it keeps in store innumerable surwill enrich men with a voluptuousness they did not suspect. On the other hand. that is to say to give to a noise a certain variety of pitches without losing the timbre that characterizes and over the whole of these irregular vibrations. as noise differs from other sound in its irregular and confuse vibrations (in terms of tempo and intensity). the ubu. The Although the characteristic of noise is to brutally bring us back to life. gushing confusely and irregularly out of life.
sobs shouts. skin. The rhythmic movements of a inant rhythm around which more secondary rhythms are equally perceptible. etc. baked earth. screams. rattlings. Here are the six categories of noises for the futurist orchestra that we intend soon to realize mechanically: ubuclassics roars claps noises of falling water driving noises bellows 3 1 whistles snorts snores 2 whispers rustlings grunts mutterings grumbles gurgles 5 shrill sounds buzzings jingles shuffles cracks 4 stone.com others are hardly more than combinations of them. percussive noises using animal and human voices: laughter. moans. There exists not only a predominant pitch. metal. 10 10 . but as well a predomubu.the art of noise luigi russolo the inspired artist will obtain in combining noises. 6 We have included in these 6 categories the most characteristic fundamental noises: the noise are infinite. wood.
This variety of pitches will not deprive each noise of its characteristic timbre but. This need and this tendency can be totally realized only through the joining and substituting of noises to and for musical sounds. 3 . When not dealing with a rotating instrument we will increase or decrease the size or the tension of the sound-making parts. traditional rhythms.The technical difficulties presented by the construction of these instruments not through a succession of imitative noises reproducing life. For down. but rather through a fantasble the changing of pitches through a built-in. we will be able to graduate its pitch according to the laws of acoustics. rather. while building instruments meant to produce this sound. are not grave.This new orchestra will produce the most complex and newest sonic emotions. Moving away from pure sound.The musician’s sensibility.com tic association of these varied sounds. 2 . infinite variety of timbres of noises obtained through special mechanisms. For this reason. an easy task. In fact it can be noticed that all contemporary composers of 1 . they nearly reach noise-sound. we will speed it up or slow it 5 . 4 . larger or smaller resonator or other exten11 11 6 . increase its range. will find This will make it easy to obtain. every instrument must make possi- . ubu.Each noise possesses among its irregular vibrations a predominant basic pitch. if the instrument employs a rotating movement.We must enlarge and enrich more and more the domain of musical sounds. a very wide variety of pitches.the art of noise luigi russolo ubuclassics Conclusions: Our sensibility requires it. half-pitches and quarter-pitches. instance. once he is rid of facile.We must replace the limited variety of timbres of orchestral instruments by the in the domain of noises the means of development and renewal. As soon as we will have found the mechanical principle which produces a certain noise. genius tend to stress the most complex dissonances. since each noise offers us the union of the most diverse rhythms as well as its dominant one.
twenty or thirty thousand different noises. Our expanded sensibility will gain futurist will be skillfully tuned so that every factory is turned into an intoxicating orchestra of you to discuss them with me. the taste. Luigi Russolo Milano. one day we will be able to distinguish among ten. Milano. knowing that audacity ubu. 8 . Painter My dear Pratella. 7 . With the endless multiplication of machinery. so that I have no acoustic preferart his will to renew everything.the art of noise luigi russolo sion. and I invite ences. March 11. In a few years. I am a futurist painter who projects on a profoundly loved cian.The variety of noises is infinite. and ears as it already has futurist eyes. Direction of the futurist movement: Corso Venezia. will not have to imitate these noises but rather to combine them accord- es so as to understand their different composing rhythms. 61. 1913. Comparing these noise sounds to other sounds they will realize how the latter are more varied than the former. This is why. their main and their secondary pitches. the engines of our industrial cities noises. I am not a musician. I submit to your futurist genius these new ideas.We invite all the truly gifted and bold young musicians to analyze all nois- the passion for noises will be developed. We certainly possess nowadays over a ubuclassics thousand different machines.com 12 . bolder than the bolder professional musigives all prerogatives and all possibilities. We ing to our artistic fantasy. I have conceived the renovation of music through the Art of Noise. nor works to defend. Thus the comprehension. among whose thousand different noises we can distinguish. totally unpreoccupied with my apparent incompetence.
the art of noise luigi russolo ubuclassics Luigi Russolo in 1913 with his mechanical orchestra. ubu.com 13 .
com 14 . and the to all the auditors. Through a clever variation of pitches. the noises lose their imitative and accidental episodic quality. creator instruments that he had just invented and built in collaboration with the painter Ugo The futurist composer Pratella and the poet Marinetti then undertook the defense of these amazing inventions in a violent contradictory debate. On the 2nd of June. in Modena. perfecting his noise instruments and creating his first four Noise Networks that were finally performed during a first noise concert at Milano’s Red House. but rather moving noise syntheses. in the face of uncouth abuse and insults on the part of the “passé-ists.the art of noise luigi russolo First Concert of Futurist Noise Instruments ubuclassics of the Art of Noise. on the evening of August 11. explained and demonstrated for the first time the different noise Piatti before over 2000 persons filling up the Storchi Theatre. the orchestra was almost always perfect. 1913. due to the truly startling performance obtained by Russolo revealed a new sonic voluptuousness The four noise networks are not mere impressionistic reproductions of life around us. the futurist painter Russolo went back to work. composed of 15 noise instru3 buzzers 2 gurglers 2 bursters 1 thunderer 3 whistlers 2 rustlers 1 shriller 1 shatterer 1 snorter small number of hasty rehearsals. In spite of some lack of experience on the part of the performers. the futurist painter Russolo. Inside the large hall.” Right after this memorable evening. the leaders of the futurist group and several important Italian journalists were massed around this strange orchestra: they greeted with enthusiastic applause and hurrays the four different noise networks whose titles follow: Awakening of a Capital Meeting of Automobiles and Airplanes Dining Time at the Casino Terrasse Skirmish at the Oasis ments: Russolo himself was conducting the orchestra. and become abstract ele- ubu.
com 15 . absolutely unforeseen and like nothing but itself. ubuclassics and the gurglers. Listening to the harmonized combined pitches of the bursters. ubu.the art of noise luigi russolo ments of art. locomotives or running waters. one rather experienced an intense emotion of futurist art. no one remembered autos. the whistlers.
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